Hania is Crete’s most evocative city, with its pretty Venetian quarter, criss-crossed by narrow lanes, culminating at a magnificent harbour. Remnants of Venetian and Turkish architecture abound, with old town houses now restored, transformed into atmospheric restaurants and boutique hotels.
Although all this beauty means the old town is deluged with tourists in summer, it’s still a great place to unwind. Excellent local handicrafts mean there’s good shopping, too, with the most authentic found in the Splantzia quarter. Along Zambeliou, Theotokopoulou and Angelou streets, roofless Venetian buildings have been turned into outdoor restaurants. Pockmarked with galleries and museums, the Venetian harbour is a good place for a stroll.
Crete’s second-biggest city, Hania is also the major transit point for hikers walking Samaria Gorge, and is the main transport hub for all western destinations.